There are few things which herald the joyful arrival of spring in Europe like the first spring strawberries. These fragrant, scarlet jewels burst with flavour and make for sticky hands and lips. They were first cultivated by the Romans as early as 200 BC, but according to legend, strawberries sprung from the tears shed by Venus over the grave of her beloved Adonis. As her tears touched the ground they transformed into tiny red hearts.
There are endless ways to enjoy strawberries. They match well in salads with tropical fruits like mango, papaya, and pineapple, and during cold winter months strawberry preserves are a perfect reminder of spring. They will tantalize your taste buds when freshly sliced with cream or honey, on cereal, in shortcake, and on top of a tart cheesecake.
True lovers of strawberries will be familiar with the town of Nemi, Italy. Nemi has been renowned for its delicious strawberries and fragoline di bosco (wild strawberries) for centuries, and every year hosts an annual strawberry festival. The harvest begins in May but the highlight of the season is always the first Sunday in June, when baskets of fresh fragoline di bosco are handed out to everyone in attendance by local girls in traditional dress.
So, a welcome to spring and the sweet strawberries it brings us!